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Opu-Nembe Crisis: Sylva Alleges Fresh Plot By Governor Diri to Destabilise Bayelsa Community

“Before Sylva emerged as gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Diri had shown only contempt for Opu-Nembe.”

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva

There is no respite yet in the lingering leadership crisis rocking the Opu-Nembe community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State as the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva, has alerted security agencies and members of the public of an alleged fresh plot by the State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, to stoke fresh crisis in Opu-Nembe ahead of the November 11 governorship election.

Sylva, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Julius Bokoru, said Diri had been the hand behind Opu-Nembe bloody crisis in the past two years.

In a swift response, the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Daniel Alabrah, lambasted the former Governor, saying he appeared to be playing the ostrich in the Opu-Nembe (Bassambiri) community crisis.

Alabrah, while reacting to a statement credited to the former Bayelsa governor, in which he had accused the incumbent governor of stirring crisis in Bassambiri, said Sylva was embarking on a futile mission to deflect attention from his own disdainful role in the protracted conflict.

Slyva had insisted that the governor had shown nothing but absolute disdain to the people of the area, adding that Diri was only interested in keeping Opu-Nembe in crisis because it was the stronghold of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Sylva, said upon his return from junketing abroad, Diri was angry to behold that the Inspector-General of Police hearkened to the outcries of the people and restored calm in Opu-Nembe.

He said: “It is very concerning that Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has become obsessed with Opu-Nembe, a community for which he had shown absolute disdain. If you ask Governor Diri to point to one project he has done in Opu-Nembe, be assured he cannot point to half a project.

“Many believe, however, he has been the hand behind the crisis in Opu-Nembe for the past two odd years. He clearly showed his leprous hand earlier this year.

“Before the elections became eminent and before Sylva emerged as Gubernatorial Candidate of the APC, Governor Diri had shown only contempt for Opu-Nembe.

“It is quite disturbing that Governor Diri only woke up from his slumber at this time when at the plea of the community  the Inspector-General of Police waded in and got the community back on its feet again.

“Opu Nembe is calm now and even the the PDP Chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, spoke up and expressed satisfaction. Opu-Nembe is grateful to President Tinubu and the IGP for the peace that is being enjoyed now.

Governor Douye Diri returned from his junketing abroad and since then has been stoking the dying embers of fire in Opu Nembe.

“Every thinking person knows that Diri’s obsession with Opu-Nembe is not unconnected with the coming governorship election in Bayelsa State. Opu-Nembe happens to be a stronghold of the APC and the governor has vowed to destabilize it at all cost.”

Sylva told security agencies that Diri’s constant bullying of the hapless Opu-Nembe people was too much, adding that the governor had made the community a topic in all Security Council meetings in Bayelsa.

The former governor said if Diri continued to interfere in the affairs of Opu-Nembe now that the situation was calm, patrons of the community and concerned Bayelsans would have no choice but to take legitimate actions to protect the community from cynics who only trade in innocent blood.

He said: “Governor Diri is also a candidate like other governorship candidates in the coming elections. We expect that security agencies in Bayelsa State will respect that and stop appearing partisan. 

“Opu-Nembe people will not sit back and watch traditional chieftaincy institution being bastardised. Governor Diri should realise that he is dealing with an ancient culture with established ways of doing things. He is not from Opu-Nembe.

“There has been no reported case of violence at Opu Nembe since the IGP’s team moved in, all parties are back and peace is restored. This renewed obsession by Governor Douye Diri, including threatening to deploy his own security squads to Opu Nembe is desperate, appalling and infantile. 

“Douye Diri’s primary and only interest with Opu-Nembe should be to develop the community and support the peace already in place. His pipe dream of destabilising Opu-Nembe at all cost before the elections will be bravely resisted by the community, citizens and every Bayelsan of goodwill.

“Governor Diri should use our common patrimony to develop the state instead of embarking on futile actions and attempts to bribe his way through the elections”.

But in his response, Alabrah said it was surprising that the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources just found his voice one month after the current crisis broke in the community.

“It is equally befuddling that Sylva was engaging in scape-goatism when virtually everyone in the state and beyond knew who the key instigator and agent-provocateur in the Bassambiri crisis was.

“To claim that the governor had been silent, in one breath, since the current skirmish was ignited in Chief Sylva’s paternal community two years ago, smacks of either his poor analysis of the situation on ground or perhaps he is ignorant of the governor’s role in ensuring that peace returned to Bassambiri.

“For the former governor to also turn around to accuse the incumbent governor of stirring crisis in the community, on the other hand, is an indication that Sylva had forgotten what a governor needed to do in such a circumstance and he therefore does not deserve the votes of the Bayelsa people on November 11.

“Bassambiri is a community in Bayelsa State whose citizens deserve the protection of the state government just as the community deserves development like all its counterparts across the state.

“The Prosperity Administration will therefore not shy away from its constitutionally-guaranteed mandate and responsibilities to people of the state, including those in Bassambiri community and the Nembe people as a whole.

“It is doubtful if the Bassambiri people can recall any of Sylva’s legacies in their community, except perhaps the frequent conflicts instigated and perpetrated by persons known to him and who enjoy his protection.

“However, the people of the Nembe communities of Bassambiri and Ogbolomabiri recall with relish how the Governor Diri administration constructed the Unity Bridge, which stands today as a symbol of their unity and oneness.

“They can also recall how the administration, after almost 70 years, made possible the multi-billion naira Nembe-Brass Road project that is ongoing apart from several other projects being undertaken in both Nembe and Brass local government areas of the state”.

Olusegun Samuel

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